Recently convicted, potentially death-sentenced Jodi Arias had an appeal to Arizona’s Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday. The appeal argued that a judge improperly allowed prosecutors to seek the death penalty, based on possible perjury by a detective involved with the case.
Arias was convicted earlier this month of stabbing and shooting her former boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in 2008. The appeal in question was filed during the middle of the trial, well before she was convicted, and argues that Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens allowed a potential death sentence to enter the trial based on a police detective’s testimony that contradicted the testimony of the medical examiner regarding the specifics of Alexander’s death.
The Huffington Post reports that the appeal focused on a specific tenet of Arizona law that only allows the death penalty to be applied if the murder was carried out in a cruel manner. Detective Esteban Flores testified at a 2009 hearing that after Alexander was shot in the forehead, he was then stabbed and slashed 27 times before his throat was cut open, suggesting that he felt incredible pain before his life ended. The medical examiner’s report contradicted the detective’s statement, suggesting that the gunshot, which would have incapacitated Alexander, came well after the slashing and stabbing. Arias’ lawyers say that Flores committed perjury, but Flores maintains that he simply misunderstood what the medical examiner had initially said.
The appeal was ultimately rejected, however, leaving Arias to face the possibility of a death sentence. The jury that convicted Arias was tasked with determining whether she was eligible for the death penalty. On May 23, the jury revealed that, while they were able to unanimously convict her, they could not agree upon whether the murder was “cruel,” and so, according to Arizona law, a new jury will convene to determine if Arias is eligible for death.
Prosecutors have said that while a second “mini-trial” with a new, impartial jury is the next step for a death sentence in Arizona law, they may circumvent that situation by reaching a sentencing agreement with Arias’ defense attorneys. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery stressed that any deal made with the defense would be subject to input from Alexander’s family, and that the defense has not yet made any overtures to discuss a deal. If no deal is struck, Montgomery will proceed to select a new jury, and stressed that it will be difficult but not impossible to find twelve impartial jurors who have not been influenced by the media’s coverage of the trial.